Prof Raimund Bleischwitz
Bartlett School Env, Energy & Resources
Faculty of the Built Environment
- Joined UCL
- 1st Apr 2022
Natural resources are high on the agenda. Global competition leads to strategic concerns around superpowers, highly volatile commodity prices and supply vulnerability. At the same time, sustainability concerns are rising and 'climate emergency' is being stated. The use of natural resources comes with environmental pressures. Using key materials such as cement and steel contributes significantly to climate change. Extraction, processing, and each phase in a product's life entail substantial harm to the environment. Yet, minerals are also needed for a low carbon economy and implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
I call it the 'triple challenge' of dealing with the economic, the socio-political, and the environmental dimensions of using resources. Quite often however real actors’ strategies focus on one of these dimensions, either predominantly supply oriented (“raw materials strategy”) or demand oriented (“resource efficiency, “sustainable consumption and production”). Interests and aims tend to differ. While manufacturing companies have an interest to cut material purchasing costs and manage volatility, they are reluctant to upscale green product innovations and change their business models. Exporting countries with rich endowments and evidently have other interests compared to countries depending on the imports of commodities. Governing the global resource nexus, – the interactions among using energy, minerals, water, food, and land – is especially challenging. Therefore, research on potential co-benefits and innovations is as essential as analysing trade-offs, risks, and conflicts.
Strategies of a circular economy are needed that cut across the different dimensions and help to develop actor coalitions creating public value. The Blue Economy offers options addressing ocean governance and the ability of oceans to uptake carbon and other greenhouse gases.
My research underlines an integrative approach and potential solutions. It shows pathways towards maintaining the physical basis of society and socio-economic values in the long term, and applies methods for analysing, evaluating, and managing material flows and re-sources. The vision is a circular economy and a blue economy driven by civil society and inclusive institutions that is embedded in natural material flows with minimal resource use ("Factor 4 to 10") and does not develop at the expense of other regions.
More specifically I’m doing analysis on (a) multi-level governance across markets and policies for eco-innovations, (b) monitoring and assessing the Global Resource Nexus, and (c) opportunities towards a circular economy and a blue economy.
I’ve done more than 300 publications, inter alia in Nature, Nature Sustainability, Global Envi-ronmental Change, Journal of Cleaner Production, I've been main editor of the Handbook of the Resource Nexus (Routledge 2018), and published the books Waste, Want or War? (Routledge 2014), International Economics of Resource Efficiency. Eco-Innovation Policies for a Green Economy (Springer Publisher 2011), Sustainable Resource Management. Trends, Visions and Policies for Europe and the World (Greenleaf Publisher 2009), Sustaina-ble Growth and Resource Productivity – Economic and Global Policy Issues (Greenleaf Pub-lisher 2009), Corporate Governance of Sustainability: A Co-Evolutionary View on Resource Management (Edward Elgar Publisher 2007), Eco-Efficiency, Regulation, and Sustainable Business. Towards a Governance Structure for Sustainable Development (Edward Elgar Publisher 2004).
Raimund had developed the new MSc on Sustainable Resources (SRes) at UCL ISR now running with 60+ students and high acknowledgements. In 2021 he was nominated for the Student Choice Awards on ‚inspiring teaching‘. Now being Honorary Professor at UCL BSEER and full time at Leibniz ZMT, he continues to contribute to teaching and supervision.
He was proud supervisor for the first generation of UCL ISR PhD students who now have received their degrees: Priscila Carvalo (now UCL Energy Institute) on principles to govern the water-energy nexus in Brazil and environmental justice, Simon Damkjaer (now University of Southampton) on water stress indicators in Tanzania, Nino D. Jordan (now UCL ISR) on climate politics, information and firms; Ruya Perincek (now OECD) on eco-innovation policies in Australia and Chile; Theo Semertzidis (now UCL ISR) on the water-energy nexus in Brazil; Florian Flachenecker (now European Commission) on material efficiency and com-petitiveness; Jun Rentschler (now World Bank) on reforming fossil fuel subsidies; and for-merly Henning Wilts (now Director at the Wuppertal Institute) on waste management and in-novation. He also acted as external examiner in five PhD Viva's at UCL, in Lund, Maastricht, Cambridge, and at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Before joining UCL Raimund had been teaching MSc courses for ten years at the College of Europe, Dept. of European Economic Studies, on "Industry and Sustainability" and "The eco-nomics of the EU climate change strategy", which resulted in supervision of some 50 master theses. He was also teaching such MSc courses at the University of Wuppertal, Schumpeter School of Business and Economics, and an MSc course on the economics of material flows at the University of Kassel.
From 2008 until 2010 he was faculty member in the Global Leadership Seminar on Climate Change Policy, Talloires, France, with Tufts University, Singapore University, Seoul Universi-ty, St. Gallen University, College of Europe.
- Doctorate, Habilitation | 2005
- Bergische Universitat Wuppertal
- Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1997
- Rheinische Friedrich- Wilhelms- Universitat Bonn
- First Degree, Staatsexamen | 1987
Raimund Bleischwitz is Honorary Professor at UCL BSEER. He has been appointed Scientific Director of the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) in Bremen, Germany, effective January 2022. Till the end of 2021 he had been Chair in Sustainable Global Resources at University College London (UCL), and Director of the UCL Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources. He participates in two UKRI Circular Economy Centres on metals and construction materials, and he is member of the DEFRA Resources and Waste Targets Expert Group. He was Principal Investigator of a large international collaborative project on the circular economy in China (SINCERE) and participated in other interdisciplinary projects. His research interests cover the blue economy, resource efficiency, the resource nexus, conflict minerals, international governance, the interface of policy and industry, and resulted in more than 300 publications. His recent book is the Routledge Handbook of the Resource Nexus. Raimund continues to contribute to the MSc Programme on Sustainable Resources at UCL and supervises PhD students.